Using a Daily Agenda
By Jeff Eccleston, Teaching PreK-8
A daily agenda in your classroom will bring order, direction and structure to everyone’s school day sample agenda.
All you need to prepare a daily agenda is cardboard, a marking pen and five extra minutes at the end of your day.
It’s amazing what a supply of cardboard, a marking pen and five extra minutes each day can do. These are the only things you need to make an agenda for your classroom that will bring the school day into focus for your students. It will also bring order, direction and structure to their day, and to yours, too.
The key word
The agenda is simply a detailed list of all the things your students must do and what you hope to accomplish on a particular school day. “Detailed” is the key word when making an agenda for your classroom. On the agenda, write down lessons you will teach, special classes students must attend, assemblies, recess, lunch, switching and traveling times and even restroom breaks. Include the time each activity will take place. Use a marking pen and a large piece of cardboard to create the agenda after school the day before you use it. Be sure to also use a piece of cardboard large enough so your students can easily see your writing from any location in the room. In addition to helping your students see the agenda clearly, the large piece of cardboard reinforces its importance in your classroom.
Using your plan book, memos and bulletins for help, it should only take about five minutes to fill in your agenda. When finished, post it in a prominent place in front of the classroom and leave it up throughout the next school day.
First thing in the morning
Begin each school day with the agenda. Call your students’ attention to it the first thing in the morning and read through every item on the list. Stop and stress items that may be of particular importance to your students. Draw attention to lessons that you believe your students need to pay extra attention to that day. You may want to point out an item on the agenda that they had trouble with the previous school day. For instance, if the item on the agenda is recess, and your class had trouble getting back to work after they had recess yesterday, this is the perfect time to discuss the problem. The initial look at the agenda gives your students a brief overview of the day and helps them concentrate on the tasks that lie ahead.
All through the day, the agenda still works for you as it becomes a visual reminder of what your students are to do and when they are to do it. With that day’s agenda clearly visible in the front of the room, students know what to expect. As a result, they’ll start to become less dependent on you for direction throughout the day. student with pointer and agenda
At the end of the school day, ask for a student volunteer to go over the day’s agenda to see what your class accomplished.
Pointer in hand
At the end of the day, it’s time to use the agenda once again. The last thing you do before your students leave for the day is go over the agenda a final time to see what you and your class actually did accomplish. This time, however, ask a student volunteer to come forward and lead the class through the agenda. With a pointer in hand, the volunteer reads through the agenda and uses it as a checklist to see what items were completed or what items need to be carried over to the next school day. The volunteer may summarize lessons learned or comment briefly about the day as he or she works down the agenda. Occasionally, offer your input and suggestions about items on the agenda and encourage the rest of the class to do the same. After students are dismissed, prepare the next day’s agenda before you leave for the day.
Bringing closure. In a nutshell, the agenda acts like a briefing. It’s a short summary and discussion of the activities your class will be undertaking. When your class knows what to expect during the day, they are more likely to concentrate, focus and succeed at what you have planned for them. At the end of the day, it’s a great way to review and to bring closure to a day of learning.
If your students are anything like mine, the first thing they’ll do upon entering the classroom in the morning is check the day’s agenda. Imagine capturing their attention from the very beginning of the day and having a tool that will help you keep it until the last bell. Locate a marker, track down a supply of cardboard, find five extra minutes at the end of your busy day and start using an agenda in your classroom. You’ll be amazed at the results!